Well, the neck, shoulder, arm, etc. continue to heal. MB drove me up to Minneapolis for MMLA last weekend since I can’t quite drive long distances and I’m not comfortable in traffic (still tough to turn my neck quickly which poses problems in traffic). It was a great trip. I read a few poems on a creative writing panel, then we saw lots of friends, drank plenty of good beer, and had some great food. Just what the doctor ordered.
Got my staples out on Monday and Doc says things look good. I now find myself fairly close to normal in many ways (or as normal as I ever am I guess). I can get around pretty easily, can do most things (although I’m still at about the 10 pound limit for lifting, but that can gradually increase now, and I can’t reach too far or there’s a sudden knife in my shoulder blade). Sunday or Monday things started to improve rapidly and surgical pain seems pretty much gone. I can start in on my neck exercises now to try to get its muscle and range of motion back. He said I could also go back on my recumbent bike to try and get my heart really pumping again. My one real pain at this point is a mid-back muscle that feels like it’s pulled with any stretch or turn. I’m going to see a massage therapist and probably a physical therapist to work it out.
So the one real issue at this point is use of my hand. Doc is fairly non-committal about if/when it will fully return, but he’s generally optimistic. Since I’m feeling relatively pain-free and am off meds at this point, I’ve started to take stock of where it stands so that I can better monitor progress. The left side of the hand (pinkie side) remains numb and very weak. Other fingers have feeling but they are limited in odd ways. For instance, I can grip something pretty well with the hand, but then smaller motions I can’t do. I can’t push toothpaste from the tube for instance. I’ve been squeezing an exercise ball with both hands in every possible combination of fingers and thumb and I’m putting my hand generally at 25 to 50% of my healthy hand. Some motions are closer to normal, but others are barely at a quarter strength. As I’ve said before, this pretty much freaks me out, but I have a good baseline now and I’ll continue to monitor and to keep pushing it. Not much else I can do I guess, so I’ll just keep the faith that it’s just a matter of time.